I stopped by Dandy Brewing Company a couple days ago with the plan of getting a growler of the rauchbier that I sampled at Oktoberfest. It was smoky and smooth, and I had far too small of a sample at the annual beer festival. Unfortunately, when I walked into the cozy tasting room I learned that they were out of the rauchbier. Not knowing what to do next, I started evaluating my choices and I decided to ask for a growler of Une Vieille Maitresse (a very nice saison that I’ve had before), only to be told that they were out of growlers and they only had the 32 oz ‘growlette.’ Well the only logical thing to do was to get two of these smaller ‘growlettes.’ I ordered a one of the saisons and for the second I went for Brel’s Brun Belgian Dark Strong Ale. At 9.5% ABV, I knew I was beginning an undertaking that would knock a lesser man to the ground. This fact was made even more apparent when the crowd of three next to me at the bar audibly gasped when I placed my order. Tonight, as I watch the American election coverage, I’m pretty sure it’s time for a strong drink.
Appearance: The beer pours a very dark brown. There’s very little head with minimal lacing on the glass. It looks like cola more than it does beer.
Aroma: There are toffee and caramel scents, but what comes through more than anything else is a smell of malts. There is a malty aroma that is followed up by fruit smells that are quite nice. It’s a welcoming smell that invites you to examine what’s behind that aroma.
Taste: This is a strong beer. Taking large gulps of this beer is not recommended. It’s quite sweet on the tongue with raisin and malt flavours. There’s no bitterness to this beer. It is a smooth, sipping beer.
Feel: There is a medium-light body to this strong ale. It’s clean on the palette without a mild level of carbonation.
Overall: This is a complex beer. Its strong alcohol content is very apparent from the boozy taste, but that is tempered by the malt flavours and the raisin-sweetness in the beer. This is not a brew that you want to reach for on a hot day, but one that needs to be sipped and savoured.